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Jets have lofty goals for holiday hockey classic

Don Fennell   Dec-20-2018

Richmond Midget A1 Jets (wearing their old Blues jersey during the Icebreaker tournament in October) will head into next week’s 38th Richmond International Bantam Midget Hockey Tournament with high expectations. The tournament, featuring teams from Canada and the United States, goes Dec. 26 to 31.

Photo by Chung Chow


Thirty-eight years ago, a tradition began with little fanfare.

Ten teams, all from the Lower Mainland, gathered in Richmond for a Midget B Division hockey tournament that would spawn one of the biggest and most popular invitationals in North America. Next week, from Dec. 26 to 31, the annual Richmond International Bantam Midget Hockey Tournament will see 58 teams from Canada and the United States face off in 144 games—all hoping to ring in the new year in style.

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One of those teams will be the Richmond Jets Midget A1 team under the guidance of head coach Derek Chichak and associate coaches Sam Chichak, Cameron Walker and Bob Walker.

A lifelong coach well known in local sporting circles (hockey, football and baseball), Derek Chichak began coaching hockey as an Introduction to Hockey instructor and has coached every level through to Junior B over the last 25 years. And after a couple years away from the rink, he’s excited to be back behind the bench.

“I really missed the camaraderie of the team, and teaching,” he says.

Since Nov. 28, the Jets have compiled the third-best record in their Pacific Coast league and hope to build upon that when they lace up the skates for tournament play starting with a Boxing Day (Dec. 26) matinee versus South Delta Storm at 5:15 p.m. at Minoru Arenas.

Derek and Bob are enjoying the opportunity to work alongside two promising young coaches in Sam and Cameron—and even learning from both.

“You see a real connection (with the players),” Derek says. “And they present a lot of great ideas.”

Being a goaltender himself in his minor hockey-playing days, Derek appreciates how important the position is to a team. And he says the Jets are fortunate to have a pair of goaltenders in Tanner Roberts and Matthew Twells who are not only athletically talented, but who also support their teammates.

“It’s awesome because we can put either one in net and have confidence they can get the job done,” he says.

Derek’s philosophy is a successful team is built from the net out. That even applies to the way the Jets build up their offence on ice.

“We have to be tidy in our own zone and not take unnecessary risks,” he says. “Our first objective is to stop opportunities for our opponents by taking away time and space.”

Then, the goal is to quickly transition the puck to the Jets’ speedy, skilled forwards. The pace of the game, and the ability to counter attack, has never been more important or pronounced in the game.

But while athleticism will always be an important element in a team’s success, Derek says attitude is equally crucial.

“If you don’t have a group that’s together, it’s very difficult when you get behind the eight ball. When you have a close team you recognize that you go through a process over the season, and you can start to see success even when you’re down.”

After their Boxing Day debut, the Jets resume tournament play Thursday by facing Alaska Wolves U18 AA in the feature game (there are no additional games being played) at 7:30 p.m. at Minoru. This follows the tournament’s official opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. The Jets final round-robin game is Saturday at noon versus Prince George’s North Central Bobcats at Minoru.

The majority of round-robin games are being played at the Richmond Ice Centre, which features six ice surfaces. Round-robin play in all divisions continues through Sunday morning, with playoffs also beginning that day. Championship games are on Monday.

Let the games begin.

RICHMOND JETS GAME TIME

Richmond Jets are hosting the 38th annual Richmond International Bantam Midget Hockey Tournament Dec. 26 to 31 at Minoru Arenas and Richmond Ice Centre. Admission is free, but the Jets would appreciate your supporting its scholarship program which is funded by proceeds from the tournament. For the last three seasons, the average value per bursary has exceeded $850 per applicant. This year, the goal is to raise $35,000.

Games for Richmond’s teams participating in this year’s tournament are as follows:

MIDGET TIER 1 (All games at Minoru Arenas)

• Wednesday, Dec. 26 vs. South Delta Storm, 5:15 p.m. Stadium

• Thursday, Dec. 27 vs. Alaska Wolves U18, 7:30 p.m. Stadium

• Friday, Dec. 28 vs. Surrey Thunder, 3 p.m. Stadium

• Saturday, Dec. 29 vs. North Central Bobcats, Noon Stadium

• Sunday, Dec. 30 Playoffs begin, TBA Ice Centre and Stadium

• Sunday, Dec. 30 Semifinal games, 3 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. Stadium

• Monday, Dec. 31 Championship game, 2 p.m. Stadium

MIDGET TIER 2 (All games at Ice Centre)

• Wednesday, Dec. 26 vs. Orange Country U16, 3:45 p.m. Forum

• Friday, Dec. 28 vs. Valley Thunder U16, 11:30 a.m. Forum

• Friday, Dec. 28 vs. Cloverdale Colts, 6:15 p.m. Forum

• Saturday, Dec. 29 vs. Alaska Oilers U16, 4 p.m. Forum

• Sunday, Dec. 30 Playoffs begin, TBA Ice Centre and Stadium

• Sunday, Dec. 30 Semifinal games, 4 p.m. Coliseum and Forum

• Monday, Dec. 31 Championship game, 11:15 a.m. Stadium

BANTAM TIER 2 (All games at Ice Centre)

• Wednesday, Dec. 26 vs. Surrey Thunder, 1:45 p.m. Coliseum

• Thursday, Dec. 27 vs. Peninsula Eagles, 11:45 a.m. Igloo

• Friday, Dec. 28 vs. Alaska Oilers U14, 9:45 a.m. Garage

• Saturday, Dec. 29 vs. Portland Jr. Winterhawks, 9:45 a.m. Garage

• Sunday, Dec. 30 Playoffs begin, TBA Ice Centre

• Sunday, Dec. 30 Semifinal games, 4:15 p.m. Igloo and Pond

• Monday, Dec. 31 Championship game, 10 a.m. Coliseum

BANTAM TIER 3 (Games at Ice Centre and Minoru Arenas)

• Wednesday, Dec. 26 vs. Cloverdale Colts, 3 p.m. Stadium

• Thursday, Dec. 27 vs. Saanich Braves, 3 p.m. Stadium

• Friday, Dec. 28 vs. Seattle Sno Kings Jr U14, 2:15 p.m. Gardens

• Saturday, Dec. 29 vs. Langley Eagles A4, 9:45 a.m. Gardens

• Sunday, Dec. 30 Playoffs begin, TBA, Ice Centre and Stadium

• Sunday, Dec. 30 Semifinal games, 4:30 p.m. Garage and Gardens

• Monday, Dec. 31 Championship game, 10 a.m. Forum


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